Buffalo Bills Tailgaters Bitch Slapped By NFL Schedule Makers

face_punch.jpgI know what you are thinking. This is another April Fools joke where I claim that the big, bad NFL is killing off tailgating. You are half right. April Fools has come and gone but the disregard for tailgaters by the NFL continues. By scheduling two Buffalo Bills 2008 “home games” in Toronto (one pre-season and one regular season game) the NFL has essentially bitch slapped the loyal Buffalo Bills tailgaters.

As they have done in years past, the National Football League releases portions of the upcoming season’s schedule in waves before announcing the finalized schedule for the entire season. A portion of that schedule was announced recently with the announcement that two Bills games will be played north of the border in 2008.

In an effort to expand the reach and appeal of the NFL across all borders, the Bills intend to play eight games over five years, including five regular season games, in Toronto beginning this season. The venue that will play host to these games is the Rogers Centre. That’s the stadium formerly known as the Sky Dome. So how is this a bad thing for tailgating? Simply put, tailgating at Rogers Centre in Toronto sucks huge donkey balls. Two simple reason for this major suckage.

1. The lack of outdoor parking lots around Rogers Centre makes tailgating nearly impossible.

2. Canadian provincial law prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public areas, like a stadium parking lot.

Simply put, tailgating at Rogers Centre in Toronto sucks huge donkey balls.

What better game to essentially kill the tailgating spirit than the one between two teams whose fans traditionally tailgate the hardest? The August 14th pre-season contest versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. I guess the avid tailgater gets shunned yet again in favor of international expansion and broadening the NFL’s appeal.

Let’s not gloss over that the fact that this disregard for the tailgater is happening to Buffalo sports fans. These are the same people that will tailgate in all kinds of weather no matter who is playing. All you have to do is remember back a few months ago when over 70,000 fans turned out for the first U.S. outdoor NHL game. Most of those fans showed up early and tailgated despite frigid temperatures and intermittent snow fall. So these fans get rewarded for their devotion to their team by having two games, albeit one of them is a pre-season game, moved to a venue where it is impossible to tailgate? Way to think this one through NFL.

I understand what the NFL is trying to do and I respect their enthusiasm for bringing the game to other nations. I get that part. What I don’t understand is the disregard for tailgating as an integral part of the NFL game day experience. Wouldn’t the broad appeal of the NFL abroad also include tailgating?

What makes the NFL the king of the hill compared to other North American professional sports leagues is the entire experience. That includes tailgating. The complete NFL experience is not just what happens for three hours between the lines on the football field. It also includes what happens for the three hours prior to kick off between the lines of a parking stall in the parking lot. By scheduling games at a venue that makes tailgating nearly impossible goes against the spirit of expanding the NFL’s appeal abroad.